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Arik Ascherman

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Title: Arik Ascherman  
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Subject: Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Einat Ramon, Occupation 101, Edwin T. Dahlberg, Corliss Lamont
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Arik Ascherman

Arik Ascherman
Born Arik Ascherman
Erie, Pennsylvania
Known for Co-founder, Rabbis for Human Rights

Arik Ascherman (born 1959) is an American-born [2][3] As a human rights and political activist,[4] he has spearheaded protests to defend Palestinians against Israeli settler violence.[5] He appears in the 2010 documentary Israel vs Israel.[6]


Ascherman grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania and attended Harvard University. Though he planned to attend rabbinical seminary immediately after graduation, he was not accepted, and instead joined Interns for Peace, a coexistence project which sent him to the Israeli Arab city of Tamra and the Israeli Jewish city of Kiryat Ata to work from 1981 to 1983.[7] After that, he returned to the United States to complete his rabbinical training.[1] He immigrated to Israel in 1994.[5] In 1988 he co-founded Rabbis for Human Rights.[8] He attributes his interest in activism on behalf of Palestinians to the rabbinic concept of tikkun olam (lit. "repairing the world"), referring to universal human rights and social justice.[7]

Ascherman actively takes the side of Palestinian citizens and farmers against Israeli police and settlers. In an incident in 2002, for example, he intervened in the questioning of two Muslim women representatives of the International Women's Peace Service in the Palestinian village of Haris, and accompanied them when they were taken to an Israeli police station and accused of obstructing police activities and incitement to riot after they questioned Israeli soldiers who had fired live ammunition into the village. Ascherman translated documents for them and drove them back to Jerusalem after their release eight hours later.[9]

Ascherman and Rabbis for Human Rights are best known for dispatching volunteers to act as human shields to protect the Palestinian olive harvest from vandalism and assault by settlers living on nearby land; every year, clashes are reported between settlers and Palestinian farmers.[10] In 2008, the volunteer effort encompassed 40 villages.[11] The effort was launched in 2002 when a Palestinian peace activist solicited RHR's help to protect olive pickers against attacks by settlers living near the village of Yanun.[12]

According to Nicholas Kristof, writing in The New York Times, Ascherman’s car has been stoned by Palestinian youths and he has been arrested and beaten up by Israeli security forces and settlers.[5] In 2004 to 2005 he was tried for civil disobedience[7] after obstructing a bulldozer as it was demolishing houses in East Jerusalem.[1] In March 2005, he was convicted and sentenced to 120 hours of community service.[4][12] He was arrested again in March 2008 for "inciting Palestinians to oppose the police" near the ongoing archaeological dig in the City of David.[13]

He casts his position as a moral and religious one rather than a political one, as he stated at his 2005 trial:

"That moral inheritance tells us that the policy of home demolition is immoral. It may be technically legal according to Israeli law narrowly interpreted. However, not everything that is legal is just. The policy is certainly illegal according to international law and tramples on the Torah, which I as a rabbi am sworn to uphold. The Torah commands us to love those different to us, not to have double standards and to have one law for all".[14]


In 2009 he was co-recipient (with Alice Shalvi) of the Leibowitz Prize, presented by the Yesh Gvul.[15]

In 2011 he was co-recipient (with Rabbi Ehud Bandel, a co-founder of Rabbis for Human Rights) of the Gandhi Peace Award, "for their nonviolent methods of resolving human rights abuses in Israel and the Occupied Territories".[16]

Personal life

Ascherman is married to Einat Ramon, the first Israeli-born woman ordained as a Conservative rabbi.[12][17] They and their two children reside in Jerusalem.[18]


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External links

  • Waging Peace: Rabbi Arik Ascherman: There are "Limits to Human Rights" from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
  • "Open Letter To The Jewish National Fund – Just say no!" by Arik Ascherman
  • "Israeli Tent-City Protests: The View from R. Arik Ascherman & Rabbis for Human Rights"
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